BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – Six Liberians have been selected to receive a tuition free education at Strathmore University in Kenya. Three of those students, all girls, hail from the St. Peter Claver Catholic High School in Buchanan.
The six students passed the exam, entitling them to four-year scholarships to study in Nairobi.
During a state visit to Kenya in 2016 along with former Education Minister George Werner and the former Gender Minister Julia Duncan Cassell, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had asked the Kenya government for more Liberian students to study in the east African nation.
In an interview with The Bush Chicken, Duncan Cassell said the Kenyan government negotiated with private universities to assist Liberia. The former gender minister further stated that the Liberian delegation toured several universities and after the tour, Strathmore University agreed to accommodate 200 African students from three African countries, including Liberia. She did not name the other two countries that were beneficiaries.
“For Liberia, 12 schools from Montserrado, Margibi, and Grand Bassa participated,” she said, noting that the entrance examinations were given to students from mostly private schools, although a few government schools participated.
Among high schools that participated, Duncan Cassell said, were St. Peter Claver Catholic High School came first, followed by Bassa High School. She added that only six Liberian students qualified.
Duncan Cassell, who was also a former Grand Bassa county superintendent, said of the 200 students agreed upon by the university, only 169 were selected from the three countries under the first phase. However, she said, this was a continuous process.
Duncan Cassell told The Bush Chicken that the news of the results affected her personally since the three girls from St. Peter Claver were members of a student club she had helped establish.
“For me, I am actually excited because in 2006, I established a girl’s club called Destiny and the three girls came from Destiny and topped other students from the rest of the two African countries, so I am very happy and proud,” she said.
The three girls are Tinlyn Garyeazohn, who plans to study law, and Patience Tukpah and Princess Yalley, who will both major in administration and technology.
While the students will study for free at the university, Duncan Cassell said they need money for other costs, such as laptops, plane tickets, and other academic materials. She called on government officials, private individuals, humanitarians, corporate entities, and philanthropists to come to the aid of the students.
“If we don’t come to the aid of these Liberian students, they are surely going to miss this opportunity, which, of course, will be a setback,” she said. “Please let us rally around their parents – some of them cannot afford.”
For her part, Garyeazohn said she is happy to have placed first among 169 students who took the mathematics test in Grand Bassa and also number one among students from the three African countries.
“I am very, very overwhelmed to be selected to study at Strathmore University because it is one of the best universities in Africa and the world at large,” she said during a phone interview, adding that she hoped she could raise the necessary funds to make the trip.
“For now, only Madam Julia Duncan Cassell is helping us in the process to get our birth certificates and passports.”
Also speaking was Tukpah, who said she was proud to be awarded the scholarship.
“If I happen to go and study at Strathmore University, I will give back to the people of Grand Bassa and Liberia at large by coming back to encourage other students to take advantage of the scholarship,” she said.
She thanked the former president and the Kenyan government for the opportunity.
Garyeazohn and another student from St. Francis High School in Montserrado are expected to leave Liberia on June 24 because their academic area of study starts earlier than others.
For now, the students are still struggling to get materials needed to study at the university, with Duncan Cassell continuing to advocate on their behalf.
“If we can’t find the money for these students to go, it will not look good to us as a country,” she said.
Featured photo courtesy of Julia Duncan Cassell